India should ‘back-off’ from banning pro-Muslim broadcasters: CPJ

Feb 2, 2022:  The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent watchdog, has called on India’s authorities to back-off from suspending the Malayalam-language news channel Media One TV, which is allegedly affiliated with an Islamic political party.

The CPJ urges India to allow broadcasters to operate freely, and to not suspend them from being on air.

According to news reports and a statement from the outlet, the Indian Ministry of Information and Broadcasting suspended the broadcaster for unspecified “security reasons” and for allegedly suspending it during the renewal of its license. Security clearance was not given by the home ministry.

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Since the initial order to suspend, the Kerala High Court temporarily postponed the government’s order until a hearing later in the week. The channel has since resumed live broadcasting.

“Indian authorities should not use vague security concerns to suspend broadcasters like MediaOne TV,” Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator in Washington DC, said in a statement.

“The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting must drop its bid to ban MediaOne TV and stop efforts to create such a harmful precedent.”

The channel in question, MediaOne TV is owned by Madhyamam Broadcasting Limited, many of whose investors are members of the Kerala state chapter of the Islamic organisation, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind.

According to local media reports, the channel is known to have reported critically on the RSS, the parent organisation of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as well as the government’s response to protests surrounding the Citizenship Amendment Act and farming legislation.

CPJ said it emailed the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Home Ministry for comment, but did not immediately receive any replies.

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